ING sells Latin American operation for 2.6 billion euros

AMSTERDAM/BOGOTA Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:16pm EDT

Exterior of the Dutch bancassurer ING before the presentation of the company's 2010 annual results in Amsterdam February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

Exterior of the Dutch bancassurer ING before the presentation of the company's 2010 annual results in Amsterdam February 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jerry Lampen

AMSTERDAM/BOGOTA (Reuters) - Dutch Bancassurer ING will sell most of its Latin American operation to Colombia's GrupoSura SIS.CN for 2.6 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in a deal resulting from its state rescue in 2008.

ING (ING.AS)(ING.N) agreed to split its bank and insurance operations in return for approval for 10 billion euros of state aid during the financial crisis in 2008 and has said it plans to repay the Dutch state in full by May.

The sale of the Latin American insurance and investment management business, which ING flagged earlier this year, now paves the way for the sale of its U.S., European and Asian operations, which are worth about 18 billion to 19 billion euros.

ING had said it wanted to sell the U.S., European and Asian businesses through two separate initial public offerings.

Some analysts say ING might fetch a higher price for its insurance assets through trade sales rather than IPOs.

"ING could also decide to sell other insurance and investment management operations, in particular those in Asia, to a rival instead of listing them," said Theodoor Gilissen analyst Tom Muller. "We know several parties want to expand in Asia."

Muller praised the GrupoSura deal. "This is a great deal (for ING), particularly the price," he said. "They're making quite a book profit on it."

BASE CASE AND FINANCING PLAN

The sale announced on Monday involves ING's insurance, pension, savings and investment management operations in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, and Peru for 2.6 billion euros in cash. GrupoSura will also take on 65 million euros of debt.

"We continue to prepare our remaining insurance and investment management businesses for our base case of two IPOs -- one for the U.S. businesses and one for the European and Asian businesses -- so that we will be ready to proceed when markets are favorable," ING Chief Executive Officer Jan Hommen said in a statement.

ING shares were down 2.8 percent at 7.86 euros, while the STOXX Europe 600 insurance index .SXIP fell 1.6 percent.

GrupoSura, or Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana, is a financial holding firm listed on the Colombian stock exchange and has investments in Colombia's biggest insurer and bank.

The purchase of the ING insurance assets is the largest outside Colombia by a company based in the Andean nation. It amounts to more than half of total investment abroad by Colombian companies in 2010.

Colombian direct investment abroad zoomed to $6.5 billion last year from less than $1 billion in 2007, surpassing Brazil and Mexico, Latin America's two biggest economies, as a share of the economy.

GrupoSura said it would finance the purchase with its own resources, Colombian or international bank credits and share issuances, probably toward the end of the year.

The preferential shares would be an "important" amount and may happen in Colombia as well as the United States, Europe or the MILA exchange that integrates the bourses of Peru, Chile and Colombia, GrupoSura President David Bojanini said.

"After the authorizations, we're going to do a roadshow to tell the whole story to investors and the great benefits of GrupoSura's action," Bojanini said, "and we believe we will be doing this issuance around October and November."

ING said the deal would create a Latin American savings and investments group with about $120 billion in assets under management and operations in eight countries.

The businesses have assets under management of 49 billion euros and earned 192 million euros in net income in 2010 on roughly 670 million euros in revenue on an IFRS basis.

The deal is valued at 16 times estimated 2011 earnings, ING said, and at 1.8 times book value on an IFRS basis. It said it would make a 1 billion euro profit on the deal, which is expected to close by year-end.

The agreement excludes ING's 36 percent stake in Brazilian insurer Sul America SA (SULA3.SA), which the company will seek to divest separately.

(Editing by Sara Webb and Lisa Von Ahn)

($1 = 0.696 Euros)

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